Finding the balance between humor and tact can be difficult, especially when your livelihood prods you toward two of the most taboo subjects: religion and politics. Dan Wasserman, a cartoonist for the Boston Globe, visited Milton on March 1 to speak to Class II and III art students about his career; he also addressed the recent reactions to cartoon depictions of the prophet Mohammed featured in a Danish newspaper.
Mr. Wasserman—a cartoonist for the Globe for the last 20 years—talked about where he gets his ideas, shared some of his published cartoons and finally pulled out his pens. As he started to draw he explained, “Caricature is a basic building block of political cartooning. People, especially presidents, over time become these sort of iconic figures. They are depicted so often that you can usually determine who the target is simply by the outline of the head.” Mr. Wasserman began sketching and as soon as he reached the ears of each figure (President Bush and Former-President Clinton), he had proved his point: laughter of recognition rose from the crowd.
On the Danish cartoons, Wasserman noted, “I don’t think that this was a freedom of speech issue. Freedom of speech has to do with government regulation of what goes to print. That wasn’t the case here. Here the upset came from a group of people who were deeply offended by the cartoons that were printed.” He concluded by saying that, in political cartooning, you have to have your own set of standards in determining what crosses the line.
Dan Wasserman is the father of Middle School students, Anika ’11 and Samuel ’12. His cartoons appear four times a week in the editorial section of the Boston Globe.